1st Rush Hour Concert 2015 Season Review – Showcasing the Church’s Majestic Organ


Our eyes competed with our ears…


We were surrounded by the architectural splendor of St. James Cathedral, not least of which is its majestic pipe organ (Austin Organ Co, Opus 948, 1929), whose pipes adorn the side walls of the sanctuary like jewelry.


CSO Principal Trumpeter, Christopher Martin. Photo: Todd Rosenberg


Christopher Martin, Principal Trumpet Chair with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra stood in the center of the stage area with his golden instrument.  Next to him was a split screen projection of Nathan Laube on the organ—his feet working the pedals while his fingers jumped from one keyboard to another on the pipe organ’s console. 



Laube’s coordination was mesmerizing – reminding of an octopus with added appendages able to work the multifaceted organ.  If we turned our gaze to the left we could see him playing from the back. 



We couldn’t help but marvel at how well-paired the large sounding trumpet and organ seemed to be.  The music, “Okna (Windows) for trumpet and organ” by Czech composer Petr Eben, was new to us.  Inspired by Chagall’s stained glass windows, each movement was scored to convey a different color. 


After this strong opening duo Laube then performed his arrangement for solo organ of Franz Liszt’s “Les Préludes”.  This was a tour de force demonstration of the pipe organ’s symphonic range and also Laube’s virtuoso performance.



What a great start to the season!


16 years ago St. James Cathedral began hosting the “Rush Hour Concerts” Summer Concert Series.  Every Tuesday at 5PM doors open at the beautiful St. James Cathedral for a 30-minute free concert that begins at 5:45, usually after a pre-concert discussion.   The performances, described with the tagline “great music for busy lives”, are drawn from both the classic and new music chamber repertoire.


Although you can hear these concerts as WFMT simulcasts, the experience of sitting in this stunning sanctuary and taking in its visual splendor paired with live music is doubly rich and rewarding. 


For information on upcoming concerts visit The Rush Hour Concerts web pages.




Photos:  Elliot Mandel, unless otherwise indicated

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